Star Trek (Marvel) #1-9

Back when I started collecting in the Nineties, I was still very into Star Trek, having been watching the original crew movies on VHS and reruns of the original series on WPIX. That led to me reading a few issues of the second DC comics series, which was in its third year and was being printed in “new format” (I want to say “the Baxter series”, but I think that term was out of use by then). I also had found a few random issues of the original DC series in the back issue bins, and that’s become the series that I’m primarily after.

But the series that preceded DC’s original series, from Marvel, didn’t have the best reputation, and it didn’t last that long, being canceled after 18 issues, with the first three being an adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I read those recently when it was reprinted by IDW in a facsimile edition of the original Marvel Super Special and though they were a solid adaptation (although not as great as the novelization) with Marv Wolfman doing what he could with a movie that isn’t as action packed as, say, Star Wars and Dave Cockrum and Klaus Janson giving us decent art.

But the real test of any series like this comes beyond the adapations. Star Wars excelled at this, and since Star Trek was actually a TV series that had 79 episodes prior to the movie, you’d think that would fit right in with the comics format. And sometimes, it does. You get the feeling that writers like Marv Wolfman, Mike W. Barr, Tom DeFalco, and Martin Pasko were taking advantage of answering the question “What would you do if you could write a Star Trek episode?” because they do have the feel of a show spinning off from ST:TMP where Kirk, Spock, and company have headed off on another mission to explore strange new worlds and all that stuff.

A lot of it falls short of the bar set by Marvel’s concurrent Star Wars series, and while I know that it’s not fair to compare the two, I can’t help it. By this point, that book was right into its adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back, so it was about to go into its best run (the Micheline/Simonson/Palmer era), and if I was a kid who liked both properties (and at one point or another, I was) but only had so much money, I would have gone for the Wars and not the Trek. Because the stories are a little clunky and “Alien of the Week” instead of trying to string together some sort of ongoing narrative. Plus, very often, they seem to be doing a Star Wars knock-off.

And then there are the times when these issues work, like in issue #7, whose decent story is bolstered by some excellent Mike Nasser (Netzer) artwork. Issue #9 is also a highlight and probably the best of this bunch. In this one, the Enterprise encounters a ghost ship, the U.S.S. Endeavor, which was lost in space a couple of decades prior and whose disappearance is one of those ongoing mysteries of Starfleet. Their encounter brings aboard an evil, almost demonic presence that is after revenge against a scientist who was one of the pioneers of transporter technology. Martin Pasko wrote this one and gives us some elements of “The Naked Time” along with a Romero feel (think The Crazies).

For the first half of the series and a half a year of stories that were original, this isn’t as bad as I have heard. It’s certainly not the type of comics that I want to run out and find in physical form (although I’m glad I have that reprint of TMP in treasury size), but for the low, low price of “Free” and with only nine issues left, I’m looking forward to seeing what the series has in store.

Read or Skip?

For now, keep reading. I’ll have a more complete verdict at the end of the series.

A Note on the Ratings: I will be using my usual “keep, sell, donate, or trash” ratings scale for any physical comics I own; I’ll use “Read or Skip” for the digital ones. That’s because digital comics don’t take up physical space and therefore I don’t have to decide if I want to keep them in a shortbox.

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